"We have plenty of open spaces and unused land", I hear your say. Yes we do, but our ecological footprint that is dictated to by what we consume in the form of utilities, food and travel is getting bigger and bigger. To the point that with our current lifestyles Australians need in excess of 7.7 hectares of land to sustain them and Americans need 9.6 hectares. And worst of all, I live in a country where we need 11.8 global hectares per person!
And how much land should we be using? With the current population, we should only be using 1.8 hectares of land. If current populations and consumption trends continue, by the mid 2030s we will need the equivalent of two earths to support us. That's a sobering fact, considering we only have one. It stands to reason then, that we cannot keep on living the same lifestyle if we want to conserve resources for the following generations.
So, how is our ecological footprint made up, and how can we reduce our carbon footprint? And do you even know what carbon is?
Practical Ways - By eating one less serving of meat a week, in a year you would save up to 10,000 liters of water and 300 kg of greenhouse pollution!
Clothing make up 14% of the footprint. Do you buy clothing from recycled materials? How often do you buy new clothes? And have you ever thought about how much water it takes to produce your clothes per year? Well, 150 000 liters to be exact which is made up of the amount of water used in its production, manufacture and transportation. That doesn't include the kilograms of pesticides and fertilizers taken to produce the material.
Practical Ways - Buy fewer clothes and rather repair and mend rather than replacing.
Practical Ways We all need shelter, but when renovating, buying new or an existing property consider how you can improve its water and energy consumption and go for a greener build. Use local building materials with recyclable content. Don't use fossil fuels and attach water tanks to your roof to store rainwater for your garden. Use solar power and wind turbines. By buying near public transport you can leave your car in the garage and save even further.
10% here! These include your plumbers, electricians, architects and landscapers.
Practical Ways - Employ green plumbers, green electricians and green architects who are sympathetic to sustainable and green building. When you have your garden landscaped do it with organic material and leave out the chemical fertilizers.
8% of your ecological footprint. Going to buy frozen and canned vegetables has taken more resources than buying fresh produce from your local farmer or growing your own.
Practical Ways - If you have a garden or even a balcony, grow your own vegetables and herbs. Use plenty of manure and natural pesticide sprays to kill those bugs and beasties and support your local farmer at your local farm shop or farmers' market. Become a localvore and know the importance of eco conscious biodiversity.
7% of your ecological footprint goes in manufactured goods.
Practical Ways Think of renting before you buy. This includes power tools, camping equipment, lawnmowers and motorized gardening equipment.
Practical Ways - Car pool, take public transport, buy locally and even cycle or walk to work if you can. By cycling or walking you are getting the additional benefit of exercise.
2% of your ecological footprint is spent on furniture and small appliances.
Practical Ways - Do you really need the latest deep-fryer or popcorn maker? Can you not make do with a deep pot for both? Limit your small appliances and see if you can buy wooden furniture that has come from well-managed forests that are sustainable. Stay away from timber that has come from rain-forests and the like.
1% of your ecological footprint. You would be shocked to know that with all the additional chemicals, fragrances and colors added to beauty products and toiletries these days, the average woman could end up with 2 kg of synthetic chemicals in her body through skin absorption.
Practical Ways - Read our section on how to make your own natural beauty products to see how you can make cosmetics naturally and safely for all your beauty needs.
So what is your own carbon footprint? Why don't you head over to our Carbon Footprint Calculator and find out for yourself!
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